A sort of mash-up of fine art and street art via collage-tuned photography, Gilbert & George’s new poly-venued exhibit, London Pictures, locally on view at Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea and the Lower East Side, is also an index of the categories and forms of reference that determine, or at least characterize, the news. In creating this body of work, based on photographs of nearly 4000 different newspaper posters—primarily the London Evening Standard—the artists determined to weave discourses of politics, tragedy and economics into those of beauty, art and language. And all this through the readily exploitable mediums of mediated messages and images of the artists themselves.
Like other bodies of work by Gilbert & George, London Pictures is a series that is—through thematic groupings such as “Killing,” “Playboy” and “Terror Plot”—hardly simplistic, hardly dismissible, yet also hardly uniformly humored.
Much the same might be said for the artists’ now provocative, now thoughtful, now comical answers in a recent interview with them in Art in America.
The following excerpt might be exemplary:
GILBERT In Europe, all of the people are very privileged compared to 20 years ago. We travel all over the world, day and night. But we don’t realize how privileged we are.
GEORGE We are the first generation to travel without going to war. My parents and grandparents traveled only to fight.
GILBERT And you see the result of it everywhere! You only have to go downtown in Manhattan, and look at the variety of food you can eat. So it’s not so bad!
GEORGE What about the handbags women carry? They are endless!
GILBERT So many different handbags!
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